Cheech and Chong Test Used in Apple Patent Infringement Lawsuit

By Joseph Mandour on June 6, 2012

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Orange County – While it is not surprising that Apple is currently in the midst of a patent infringement lawsuit against its primary rival Sony, it is surprising that the lawsuit is hinging on what is being called the “Cheech and Chong” Test. In the style of the well-known comedic duo, U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender asked about design similarities between the two products, “Does it look like it, feel like it, smell like it?” The quote was taken from a routine in which the two comedians tried to figure out if an offending substance was dog feces.

In the ongoing lawsuit, Apple contends that Samsung Electronics illegally copied the iconic design of its iPhone. Apple is further arguing that Samsung’s smart phones and Galaxy Tab tablet designs copy the look and front face of the iPhone. Apple is also alleging that it’s user interface and headset plugs have been copied by Samsung.

Competition between the two manufacturers has long depended on the first company to get to the marketplace with newer, faster and better technology. Consequently, the outcome of the current lawsuit is extremely important. Apple is asking that imports of the offending Samsung products be stopped at U.S. Borders. Products included in the lawsuit are some of Samsung’s best selling smart phones including Captivate, Indulge, Infuse, Nexus and Sidekick. Samsung has already been forced to delay release and alter its Galaxy products in Australia and the Netherlands.

Samsung, not one to easily capitulate, has initiated a lawsuit of its own against Apple that is scheduled for trial next week. Samsung claims that it has been working on its product design ideas for decades and spent over $3.5 billion in development. Samsung contends that it developed its own devices with the iconic rectangular shape and wide touch screen before the iPhone. The claims by Samsung against Apple involve applications that allow users to view documents on a touch screen platform, as well as high-speed data transmissions. Samsung is asking for the trade agency to stop sales of such products as the iPad, iPod Touch and the newest iPhone 4S.

Testimony in the ongoing case is scheduled through today and a finding should be released on October 5th. Samsung’s counter lawsuit began June 4th, with testimony being heard through June 15th. The determination for the Samsung lawsuit is expected to be released September 14th. Additional patent claims against Samsung are scheduled for a July trial date. Experts anticipate a decision in the additional case to be handed down in January or February of next year.

As behemoths in the industry, Samsung and Apple currently account for a combined total of 49% of smart phones sold worldwide. Adding fuel to the fire between the two competitors, Samsung recently overtook Apple in the last sales quarter as the largest manufacturer of smart phone devices. Sales of smart phones worldwide increased 43% in the last sales quarter.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement